Recently, Nenad Gligoric, our senior researcher, together with Suparna De from the University of Winchester has published an article on SmartTags for supply chain monitoring.
Smart Tags are new types of sensors that are printable and can collect, sense, and read environmental parameters of relevance to the product. Their use was developed in one of our previous projects H2020 TagItSmart. For fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) this represents the basis for the creation of a new generation of supply chains which, in combination with GS1 Digital Link global specifications standard, makes it possible to identify each product item, track it and monitor it on an item level. These capabilities offer opportunities for informed management of assets and innovative consumer engagement by transforming consumer goods into digital assets.
About H2020 TagItSmart project
H2020 TagItSmart project has researched and piloted the use of QR-codes printed with functional inks and printed NFC (Near Field Communication) tags with sensing capabilities to create ‘SmartTags’. The project made solid ground on the research topic and development of the SmartTag technology, which is, because of its simplicity and standardized approach, adopted and used by many industry players.
Environment-reactive SmartTags with Functional Inks
With NFC and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) solutions proving expensive for consumer-packaged goods, TagItSmart has pioneered the use of dynamic QR-codes that are printed on consumer goods using environmentally reactive inks that change appearance according to selected conditions, e.g. temperature, humidity, light intensity. The growing use of smartphones equipped with cameras facilitates an off-the-shelf solution for scanning the dynamic QR-code information as well as lifecycle tracking of the item through seamless observation measurements of the generated smart tag data. This visual change on the product packaging, as well as individual product identification using the GS1 Digital Link Standard allows not only tracking of every individual item from the factory to recycling, but also enables additional information about the item to be communicated to consumers. This includes visual clues to consumers that a product is at its optimum consumption temperature, monitoring of condition-sensitive goods during transport (e.g. vaccines, meat, and dairy goods), alerts to retailers that an item is close to its best-before date, and also if an item has been properly recycled.
In a nutshell, smart tags open up exciting possibilities for consumer engagement, supply chain tracking, and product recycling.
Use case: SmartTags-enabled Ice cream
The TagItSmart technology can be showcased in numerous scenarios, with an ice cream scenario being noteworthy, due to the possibility to showcase most of the SmartTag’s technology benefits. An irreversible functional ink is used to create the SmartTag, capturing temperatures larger than −10 °C with a timestamp set to 30 minutes. The sensing capability of the SmartTag, supported by the ink, is specifically designed for the ice cream scenario to satisfy specific requirements, as shown in Fig. 1:
The SmartTags are encoded with a QR code to identify and encode the temperature-sensitive property and an image to show the user that the ice cream is good to be consumed. Next, a mobile phone with a web browser is selected as the scanner for the SmartTag. The identifiers for the designed SmartTags are created and the resulting tags are printed.
The next step is to model the objects that will be labeled with the SmartTags, i.e. the ice cream virtual entity, which is achieved through a VE-front end in the platform (Fig. 2). The front end is driven by the VE semantic model.
The user experience with the SmartTags is also an important part of the application development process. It will typically involve how the user is going to scan the SmartTag and how the information generated is going to be used and presented. This is developed as a Web application and integrates the mobile phone scanner and application workflow through the correspondent SDKs and libraries, as shown in Fig. 3.
To ensure the smooth creation of the tags, the TagItSmart project created a semantic model for describing the environment-reactive properties of the QR codes and NFC electronic tags. The model incorporates the materials’ composition of the physical products, the characteristics of the functional ink, such as what environmental conditions it reacts to (e.g. temperature, humidity, time-lapse, etc.), the accompanying relevant state changes (e.g. color and visibility changes), as well as observation measurements together with their spatial description.
Nenad Gligoric is one of the pioneers of the IoT scene in Serbia, working as a software engineer in Ericsson and as a project manager in DunavNET on more than 10 EU, FP7 and H2020 projects. He was one of the technical managers of the H2020 TagItSmart project.
The main challenges in grape production are related to management of pests and diseases and, in some regions, to optimizing irrigation schedules. How to save grapes from diseases and harmful insects, what is the right time to use pesticides, when to irrigate, how much water to use are some the main questions faced by winemakers. The current practice relies primarily on expertise and experience of farmers than on technology and measurements-based decision, resulting in sub-optimal activities, higher than necessary production costs and negative impact on the environment and soil as natural resources.
New IoT and AI technologies can not only provide real-time insights into the situation in vineyards, the environmental and soil conditions, vegetation status, utilization of machinery, record of activities and measures undertaken, etc., but also provide recommendations and advices on the best actions taking into account a multitude of parameters thus simplifying the decision process for the winemakers and significantly optimizing the operation.
About SREM – FRUŠKA GORA
The Association of Producers of Grapevine and Wines with Geographical Indication „SREM – FRUŠKA GORA“ is founded in 2015 as a result of desire of Fruška gora’s winegrowers and winemakers to continue the fabled grapevine growing tradition of this area and also to improve the production of grapevine and wine. Today, there are 77 grapevine and wine producers in the association.
The winegrowers of Fruška gora – leading the way
Last year in September H2020 DEMETER project was started as a large-scale deployment of farmer-driven, interoperable smart farming – IoT based platforms, delivered through a series of 20 pilots across 18 countries. Involving 60 partners, DEMETER adopts a multi-actor approach across the value chain (demand and supply), with 25 deployment sites, 6,000 farmers and over 38,000 devices and sensors being deployed.
Under the umbrella of the H2020 DEMETER project, DunavNET has started collaboration with the Serbian Association of producers of grapevine and wines SREM – FRUŠKA GORA. The association gathered 77 members with around 650 ha of vineyards on Fruska Gora mountain in north part of Serbia.
The main challenge farmers are faced with is how to save their crops from pests and diseases. Important role in meeting the challenge play new technologies which can help farmers to react on time thus preventing disease spreading and harmful insects’ overpopulation. Automatically created recommendations on when and what type of pesticide to use based on real time in-filed measurements will help farmers to optimize pesticide usage thus producing better crop quality but also reducing negative impact on the environment.
agroNET, a solution developed by DunavNET has been put in service within one of the DEMETER project’s pilots as the main decision support system. agroNET devices (weather stations and smart pheromone traps) are deployed across the Srem – Fruška gora association’s vineyards in order to provide real-time insight into environmental parameters and accordingly provide precise recommendations for controlling diseases as well as the population of grape moth.
The main results are preventing pest and disease outbreaks, cost savings and increase of the yields. A 20% reduction of the pesticide usage is achieved. Continuous monitoring of the number of caught insects without having to do on-site visual inspection significantly contributes to the reduction of monitoring costs. The number of insecticide treatments is reduced by approximately 15-20% and yield losses up to 10% thanks to real-time insights which also help in defining the right moment for using selected insecticides. Reducing the negative impact on the environment is an additional benefit. Last, but not the least, combining the art of grape production with the art of digital technologies and science will result in even better tastier wines.Read More
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